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The freedom of having less

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Sometimes we go through life carrying an unnecessary weight of superfluousness.

We buy on a whim and end up with more than we need. Before we know it, we have no place to put these items, which leads us to either 
  • needing to buy more storage space,
  • having a refrigerator and cabinet full of expired goods, or
  • one big, packrat mess.
What’s the point?

Is it to keep up with the Joneses? Conspicuous consumption is a rat race that never ends.

Is it to feel better about oneself? Thousands of years of documented human stories show that material possessions will never fill a void in one’s life.

Whether it’s the effect of consumer culture, or an emotional or spiritual need, having more has little to do with finding happiness.

Anthropologists often note that citizens of Third World countries are much happier than those with First World achievements.

What’s their secret to contentment?

They find pleasure in simplicity.

Having too much could feel burdensome, tiring, overwhelming, and even restricting.

You know those two extra cans of veggies you got weeks ago at a BOGO price are taking up too much space in your pantry. They stare at you mockingly every time you go through your supplies, because you never could figure out what to cook with them. But what could you do about it? They’re there.

You still have a second generation iPod sitting in a drawer, and you haven’t used it in ages. You prefer using your spiffy new Smartphone. That’s the phone that replaced last year’s model, also collecting dust in the drawer.

You have five pairs of boot cut jeans. Sure they look almost sort of identical, but if you look closely, one is faded denim and the other four are distressed denim. Clearly you need them, every one of those, even if your closet could hardly fit another hanger.

Why create a burden for yourself?

Detachment could be a wonderful thing. It affords the freedom that acquisition and possession could never offer. The less we accumulate, the less overwhelmed we feel. However, the more we acquire unnecessarily, the more we become bonded to things.

Start with a quick evaluation: why I do I have (fill in the blank)? Do I really need it, or am I just holding on to it? When was the last time I used it? Do I have another one sitting around?

Take a good look around you and analyze what is truly essential. Purge your phone of unused apps, clean out your closet of what you never really use, pull out those old college books sitting on your shelf and get rid of that spare futon no one sleeps on anymore.

Then, think of who might benefit from your abundance.

Next, declutter and sort items to send to the appropriate parties. Places like food banks, homeless shelters, churches and other donation centers are always in need of supplies to help those in need.

Finally, enjoy the beauty of altruism and bask in the sweet freedom of “less is more.”

Comments from readers

Niurka Concepcion - 04/03/2014 08:11 PM
Gracias Blanca. Este articulo me motiva a seguir sacando de mi casa cosas innecesarias pero mejor aun a no seguir comprando!
Que Dios te siga usando como Su instrumento para comunicarse con nosotros sus hijos amados.
Bendiciones.
Dolores Hanley McDiarmid - 04/02/2014 07:31 PM
Thank you for the great article! You are absolutely correct! There is much freedom in traveling through life without all the unnecessary attachments.

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